22 February 2011

Columbus Circle Diner Memory

A couple years ago, I posted this photo of an old luncheonette that used to be on Columbus Circle. (There's a Starbucks there now.) The other day a reader who actually visited this drug store wrote this:
I went to this beautiful luncheonette after dropping my band's CD with Atlantic Records. It was a very big day for me as a young musician. I am a Canadian songwriter, today writing a song about how my friend- now gone by suicide, connected me with Arif Mardin, of Atlantic. A perfect chocolate shake and tuna sandwich at this classic NYC soda shop made me feel special and at home. I'll share the moment in the song. Thank you for the photos and history of a treasured place in time...where I sat with my hopes and dreamed a little while. ..... Arif liked the record, bless his soul (and my late friend's) and that of the Columbus Circle Pharmacy that place had plenty of soul!


Erica said...

I used to eat in there with my grandmother 20 years ago when she used to drag me on Saturday mornings to the Lincoln Center Young Peoples' Concerts. It was a lovely place, although when I was there I never thought of it as a "classic NYC soda shop" because I never thought that one day they'd all be gone. I still remember the guy behind the counter, an old African-American man in a white T-shirt and apron who used to make me cream cheese and jelly sandwiches on a toasted bagel.

John Tucker said...

How fun to come across this photograph. I discovered this drug store when I got a job in the neighborhood in the 1980's. Even then, it seemed like an anomaly, one of the few drug stores that still had a soda fountain at one end. I'm not sure I ever ate there, something unappetizing about eating next to a display of laxatives, but the lunch counter was always busy and I enjoyed the old fashioned weirdness of the place, like the 10 year-old, dog-eared greeting cards still for sale on the wrack by the phone booths.

Unknown said...

OMG, I last saw this place back in the 1970s! Great chocolate shakes and real New York-style tuna salad, the kind in which the tuna "salad" had an almost pate-like texture.


In the late 1940s and early 50s, I'd pick up tuna sandwiches and coffee here at the far end of the counter for my mother who worked at Professional Children's School, then located a block north at 1860 Broadway, 4th and 5th floors. I was a child actor attending the school and remember well the clattering of streetcars that still rumbled around Columbus Circle and up and down Broadway - at least through the late 40's. Fun to see this photo.Thanks for posting it.

Kamo said...

I went there a few times when I worked in the neighborhood in the early 1980s. It looked like a relic and I liked the odd atmosphere inside, with its triangular shaped lunch counter that matched more or less the footprint of the block. Mind you lunch counters were already on their way out, it was mostly old and poor people that patronized them. The only other ones I saw were at Woolworth. It's sad that it disappeared. My favorite places were all gentrified. Manhattan has turned to something inhuman.

Unknown said...

My dad owned this luncheonette/Pharmacy. It was his pride and joy to serve the diverse customers, many who worked or lived nearby others visited the store because they were in town for a show at the coliseum across the street. Dad had a great relationship with all the customers and local business owners.. Arif Mardin, African Tours, Martins bar etc... He treated everyone like family when they came to his store, after all... he did spend more time at work than at home... It was a part of our family. Myself and my sisters would pop in and help out from time to time.
The store was his life and enjoyment every day until he was forced to retire as a result of a rent increase.

Anyway. My dad, often known as Doc or Bill to many has recently passed away. When he left the pharmacy a part of him died, but he continued to love his family and offer his joy and happiness to many people. With my dad gone, the memory of Columbus circle pharmacy will fade from many but not to me and my family.

Rest In Peace dad.